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J Neurochem. 1991 Jul;57(1):344-7.

Morphine and cocaine exert common chronic actions on tyrosine hydroxylase in dopaminergic brain reward regions.

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Department of Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.


We studied levels of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity and phosphorylation state in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and nucleus accumbens (NAc) in an effort to understand better the mechanisms by which these brain reward regions are influenced by opiates and cocaine. In the VTA, chronic, but not acute, administration of either morphine or cocaine increased levels of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity by 30-40%, with no change observed in the relative phosphorylation state of the enzyme. In the NAc, chronic, but not acute, morphine and cocaine treatments decreased the phosphorylation state of tyrosine hydroxylase, without a change in its total amount. In contrast, morphine and cocaine did not regulate tyrosine hydroxylase in the substantia nigra or caudate/putamen, brain regions generally not implicated in drug reward. Morphine and cocaine regulation of tyrosine hydroxylase could represent part of a common biochemical basis of morphine and cocaine addiction and craving.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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